Apocalypse at the Bus Stop

Marissa wakes on the volcanic concrete. The sun was high in the center of the sky. The day had been hot, despite the fact that it had rained last night. Little dried worms and the dampness of her clothes are Marissa’s only company besides the dismembered limbs that are scattered about her. A rotting smell hangs in the air. A large crow caws at her from the other side of the parking lot. Marissa groans as she sits up. Fumbling through her fanny pack she takes out a small wet wipe and dabs at her forehead. What a strange day. Marissa, having freshened up a little, stands and steps over a piece of human leg. The evidence of the war aka development aka liberation from the former democratically elected oppressors.

Marissa hiccups and leans against the wall of the abandoned corner store. She had a half-finished bottle of rum tight in her grip. A freshly burned photograph that had pictured two small girls lie in a pile of ash at her feet. Shuffling away from her mess, Marissa sits at the bus stop. Marissa hiccups and drinks. Her eyes tried focusing on the horizon where it seemed to her that a black figure was approaching. Marissa hiccups again. A small percussive sound reverberated in her skull has she slouched against the dirty pole of the bus stop. No, two black figures.

By the time she had stopped hiccupping, the two figures had materialized into full-blown people. One, a small woman with wire-rimmed glasses and delicate wrists checks her watch. The second was an old man with a chess pieces on his tie. The young woman rifles in her purse and sighs exasperatedly. Marissa starts to tap her feet on the ground. Another crow joins the other larger crow and they all seemed to be too many that she could reasonably talk to.

            “Did anyone find anything useful?” The old man rubs his knees after sitting down carefully.

            Marissa just shakes her head.

            “When is this bus going to come?” The young woman exclaims.

            “You tell me” The old man lights a cigarette.

            “I’m not the one who has the radio.”

            “Shut up”

The sound of the wind grew louder. Marissa pulled her dirty clothes tighter around her torso.

            “Eugene, do you have another?” Marissa squawks at the man. He squints at her, spits on the ground and clears his throat ending in a finale of spit that he lugs at the ground.

            “Uck” Marissa’s face contorts.

            “Fuck yourself little B-I-T-C-H” She crosses her arms and settles back into staring into the neck of her bottle.

            “When is this bus gunna get here?” The young woman adjusts her scarf to block the smells coming from the body parts around the bus stop. Only the wind answered her repeated question.

            On the wings of the east wind you could hear them before you saw them. A great rumbling as if shaking the ground. Marissa groans in discomfort.

            “Fucking Harleys. Can’t they just keep their cacophony to themselves for just a split second?”

            “Big words for such a sad sack. Who’re you tryin to impress?” The old man’s chessboard tie fluttered in the wind. Marissa shot him a look that could kill and stood up, turning to the young woman.

            “Maria?” The delicate woman glanced back and looked forward. “Maria?”

            “What.”

            “I think- maybe this time…”

            “What?”

            “Maybe this time you could talk to them? We got your back you know and they’ll stop, you know that they always-“

            “I know that they always stop” Maria cut her off. Maria checked her watch again. “I would’ve thought that – with everything going on that I wouldn’t have to deal with this”

            “I know Maria” The old man interjected. “It’s just that I talked to them the last two times and the last time Marissa talked to them.”

            There was a flash of black leather a studs turning the corner. The old man placed a small bottle of asprin in her hand. Maria gripped it lightly but didn’t move her other hand from her face.

            “WHOA NELLIE!” A big voice exploded from a small man on an even bigger Harley Davidson. “WHAT DOYOU SEE HERE” Maria said nothing. “I SAID- I SAID WHAT DO YOU SEE HERE?” Maria’s lips moved but nothing came out. “SHY??”

            Maria was visibly pale and trembling as she held out the bottle of asprin. The biker looked at it and took it from her, inspecting the bottle thoroughly. Looking through every pill by dumping the lot into his palm and putting on his bifocals. He nodded appreciatively.

            “THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATION.” He laughed hugely and carefully put every pill back into its bottle. “DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU CAN SPARE?”

            Maria shook her head.

            “WHAT ABOUT YOU TWO?”

            “What about us?” the old man protested the attention.

            “WHAT ABOUT YOU TWO?”

            “We don’t have anything else.”

            “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS STANDIN HERE FOR?”

            Maria piped up- “We’re- we’re waiting for the bus.”

            “THE BUS TO WHERE?” The Harley was the only sound in response. Marissa started laughing and took another swig of her bottle. “THAT BOTTLE LOOKS YUMMY” Marissa stopped laughing and put it behind her back. The biker laughed again and flashed a gun at his hip. She capped the bottle and offered it to Maria. Maria edged back, not letting her back face the biker and handed the small amount of liquor left to the biker. The biker uncapped the warm alcohol and downed all of it. The stream of clear drink making his beard shinier than it already was. He smashed the bottle near Maria’s feet and laughed again at her jump and rode away.

            Maria looked at her wrist again. “When is the bus going to come?”

Gaming: a lifestyle and a career

Click. Buzzz. Katizz. In the Heights area of Houston, Texas at the tail end of September, a group of around 20-30 Millennials gather around the television on a hot Sunday afternoon. They flick through the channels to cheer on their favorite Houston team. But something makes this event different from the Sundays past, it is not to cheer on any soccer game or football or even tennis. It is The Overwatch League 2019 Grand Finals. Twitch and even ESPN have helped make gaming the single largest entertainment business in the world. By a long shot.

These platforms provide live coverage of the matches that are viewed by a little under than half a million people. The viewership is only growing and is fast outpacing all mainstream physical sporting events. The world of competitive gaming has swelled, and with it; the potential winnings. According to Overwatch’s website there is around 5 million dollars at stake for those willing to put in the work. There are salaries to be earned and online forums to troll. Split between the Atlantic and Pacific, 6v6 teams ranging from cities like Guangzhou and Toronto to compete in the regular season to play live at an arena built by Blizzard, the video game developer company itself in Los Angeles.

 I was first introduced to the gaming world by my older brothers. One brother in particular was very tech savvy and in the early 2000s would go around our suburban neighborhood with his high school friends and haul back big monitors with giant convex glass screens that flickered and hummed whenever you turned them on. With whatever tech supplies that he could scrounge up he would hook together something called a Local Area Network (LAN) and would invite his friends so that they could play Warcraft III. Now, 20 years later, Blizzard is still maintaining a solid grip on the gaming industry. Blizzard has been able to adapt and anticipate new markets such as first-person shooter games like Overwatch.

First-person shooter games are heralded by conservative older Boomers at its worst as a poison that stokes violence among the youth and at its best; a waste of time. But we can’t deny that video games are the domain of Millennials like my brother and has become a huge part of our world culture. First person shooter games have become so pervasive in our society that if continuing the current trajectory will overtake even the most steadfast of American traditions, football. Rather than torn ACLs, carpel tunnel has the potential to take over as the predominant sporting injury that costs professional gamers money according to a 2016 article by The eSports Observer.

But can you even define gaming as a sport? Fans of Overwatch would argue steadfastly for the affirmative. Activision Blizzard, the publisher of Overwatch along with many other highly successful games has permeated the market has made millions, just like in real life (IRL) sports. Blizzard is the brains behind Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and most famously World of Warcraft. Game developers have found other ways to make money according to the Atlantic like loot boxes which is surprisingly close to gambling.

In conclusion, the rise of professional paid gaming is just in its infancy. Gaming competitively will further embed itself into the norms of American culture and a world denied to all but jocks will see the revenge of the geek. There is are high stakes to be tackled, and much nerd-ary to be embraced. Oh yeah, and millions be made.

My first five hours in Beijing

The year was newly 2018. January was just peeking its head around the corner of the calendar when I got on the plane to live in a country that I had only read articles about and seen in smog-filled photos. When I landed (a day early, a mistake I still blame on my father’s insistence that I keep in mind the time change) I dragged my bright red suitcase behind me. My goal was to find my way to a hotel for that first night. I did not think at the time to buy a new sim card to account for the Chinese firewall and was operating solely on a well-worn stack of papers that I had printed at my parent’s house. Forging ahead toward where I thought made the most sense; the line of taxis outside of the airport. Sweaty palms gripped my small amount of Yuan and I flagged down one and showed them the messy Chinese that I had painstakingly copied down onto one of the pieces of paper that I clung to like a life vest. But what I didn’t understand (besides the Mandarin that covered every tongue and street sign), was that I had made a mistake with my choice of taxi-driver. It wasn’t until I was standing in front of a nondescript building that was most certainly not my hotel without any method of getting back to the airport. I was effectively on my own. But by taking a deep breath and thanking my lucky stars that I had the foresight to download the offline-google translate of English-Mandarin I was able to find someone to call me a taxi back to the airport and I ended the day (if not a little shaken up) safe and sound where I was supposed to be.

I’m not sure who I am anymore

Hands are shaking

are those mine?

I’m not sure who’s hands these are since that summer

I’m not sure who’s hands these are since that summer

It is so strange so strange so strange

I am so sorry so sorry so sorry.

It is all my fault that the floor stretching out beneath

doesn’t seem to be there for me to step anymore

that the air around me seems to be thicker

time seems to go quicker

my fingers find their way into my mouth

my teeth find the snap and the resistance of my nails

that I have used to join my two joints of wood

to the nub

till they are bleeding

till I have nothing left but oxidized iron

until the cartilage or keratin

or whatever the organic parts

of not-me are made out of are scattered

in a circle closing

till my mind winds up

and down and up and down

like the music box ballerina posed

sugar plum fairy

statuesque in her pirouette

waltz of the flowers

the click of the gears and the sizes

of the perfect metal

of the stiffened amino acid proteins

of my skin with the exclusion of when you find the perfect

color of the perfect permanent marker-

a careless brush of the thumb

unknowingly ending in a sick

purplish pinkish blush smeared across vintage ceramic face

had the purple taken her bright teeth

had the pink taken away the reach of her joy to her eyes

had I taken away even her size?

because of an accidental assumption

I had been the one that knocked her broken and loose

I am sorry I am sorry I am sorry

Under-Discovered

Other people always bothered me anyways.

When I spoke wrong, which was often-

They would stare or take pictures of themselves

Because if I couldn’t speak like they could

They weren’t interested.

I found a solid gold iron pyrite in the ground

While I was taking a walk in the park.

When I extracted it;

I sat down and examined it

The glittering fool’s gold casted

Splatter across my face

Gilded with dirt.

I run the bath hot.

And when a spider drops in,

uninvited,

and I feel as if he were already on my skin

Swimming eight legs and hair and eight eyes

Swimming two legs and hair and two eyes

Two feet and one face curl in disgust

There’s nothing wrong with choosing space.

Gripping the fools gold tightly

Value is what you make of the glitter

Understudied invertebrate

Under-discovered treasure

Like a cloud in front of the moon or

Is it the moon behind the clouds

Is it the traffic killing you

Or you, being a part of the line

stretched across the stop-

light

like

A

Ladder.

Spectacullah: your New Favorite Album

The inauguration of Cullah to the office of established name takes place as small wood violets bloom in the north woods. It is impossible to go down streets of Milwaukee without Cullah’s voice drifting out the open doors of the residents of Riverwest (a vibrant small neighborhood that represents the infusion of eccentric socialist intellectuals, DIY punk anarchists, and afrofuturistic creatives). Cullah has not only created and released a truly awesome amount of tunes; they have traveled the distance. From Milwaukee’s own Cactus club in Bay View, and to as far north as Sweden and as far south as Chile; Cullah’s cultural footprint has been painstakingly engraved. It’s alright if you haven’t heard of Cullah before. Like Milwaukee, he has been underrated and sometimes even written off (not enough “it” factor he was told). His iconoclastic courage told him that only he could tell his story. Therefore, he has kept total creative control of the production of his work. You can see the singular vision of the artist unify in Spectacullah.

Spectacullah has shown off Cullah’s unwavering and broad talents, as well as pulling his sound from the things most personal to him. “I Want you to Be Kind to Yourself” is written to his mother, who has been experiencing health problems. Cullah’s new album represents the month that he was born in. To that season of new growth -he has pledged to dedicate the fully-formed creation, execution, and manifestation of his virtuoso. To understand his capabilities you only need to listen to “Love You Gotta Be” this particular song incorporates three different key signatures and the wild heart of his sister’s songwriting. To only call him technically talented- that would be underselling. To call him the next greatest artist – that would be only logical.

www.cullah.com album art – BigShotRobot

The Non-Believer

This morning

I awoke to my mother

leaning over

me

and shaking

me

we are going to church

she informed

me

A hot

white

brick of hatred

was thrown

through my window

at that moment

and lodged

itself inside

me


I growled like

a wild dog

but with one gunshot

of a glance

I shut up

but continued

to rot

I put on ugly clothes

-my rebellion

we sat in church

the red cloth

pews

hiding the red

scratches

the marks that were

burned into

me

perverse thoughts

ran through

my head

my anger

flared like an ugly rash

we all bowed

our heads

and looked prayerful

while i refused (-my rebellion)

I wouldn’t pray

anyway

so why pretend

But I filed in line

anyway

and ate the

spirit of god

the hypocrisy boiled and

churned

in my stomach

A Meal for Oneself

White plate on roommate’s placemat

“Vintage” brown table and creaky radiator in the corner

The neighbors above us are fighting.

Feet pound pounding on the cap of our ceiling.

Canned tomatoes – out of basil

Fresh or otherwise-

Three shards of dried bay leaf set to simmer

Translucent onions stained glass by the olive oil

That block of parmesan

              C’mon -put your elbow into it

Great shocks of white square salt

And stings of red and black pepper

The palate,

              -does it sing?